ESA ExoMars has detected water in the canyons of Valles Marineris on Mars

We recently wrote how, thanks to an agreement between ESA and CNSA, the Mars Express probe was used to receive data from the Zhurong rover. But it’s not the only one martian orbiter from the European Space Agency, the other is ESA’s ExoMars trace gas orbiter (built in collaboration with Roscosmos). It was from this mission that something new happened on the red planet.


As reported in these hours, the probe would have identified cascade in a large system martian canyons. This is an important discovery both in terms of knowledge of the red planet but also for future explorations with humans. Having usable resources at the destination location means you don’t have to bring them from Earth, making the journey simpler.

ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter found water in a cayon on Mars

Water was spotted in part of Marineris Valleys which is located in the equatorial zone of March. It is a system of very large valleys that cross the planet. Their total length is equal to 4000 km, the width reaches 200 km while the depth rises to about 7 km.


That in itself is nothing new water on mars. This has already been discovered in the past and is mainly found at the poles where it is found in the form of ice. Thanks to the FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) instrument of ESA’s ExoMars trace gas orbiter it was possible to find a large amount of hydrogen which, almost certainly, is bound inside the water molecules. It is therefore not a direct detection but a very important indication of the presence of water.

Area “rich in water” has the size of the Netherlands and is more precisely located in the valleys of Chaos of candor, which are the deepest. A set of specific characteristics of these areas could prevent the water from sublimating or evaporating as it happens rather in the most exposed parts. I’water detected it could also be hidden under a layer of dust but thanks to FREND’s ability, it’s not a problem to detect it.

march water

Green dots are hydrated minerals detected

Alexei Malakhov (study co-author) he stated “We found that the central part of Valles Marineris was rich in water, much more water than expected. This is very similar to the permafrost regions of Earth, where water ice persists permanently under dry ground in due to constant low temperatures”.

Not everything was specified. For example, we don’t yet know if water is in the form of ice or chemically bound to minerals. The first hypothesis seems the most promising since the minerals of the regions considered are generally not very rich in water. Unfortunately FREND Of ESA’s ExoMars trace gas orbiter he does not have the capacity to distinguish between the different hypotheses. New observations and studies will be necessary to try to understand the real quantity of water present and how it is distributed in the ground (whether in the form of ice or inside minerals). As written above, the discovery increases our understanding of March and will make it easier to explore.

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